Can IoE Reduce
Ivory Poaching?
A Cisco Director Finds Out.

by Sarah Eccleston · Director Enterprise Networking · UK & Ireland


If we can connect a cow to the Internet, why not an elephant?

As Director of Enterprise Networking and IOE, I regularly evangelize the power of the Internet of Everything, illustrating my point with examples such as connected cars, connected clothes, connected cities and even connected cows.

One of the orphan elephants at the Game Rangers International orphanage.

I then got to thinking that if we can connect cows to the Internet, why can't we connect elephants to the Internet, to reduce ivory poaching? An elephant gets shot for its ivory every 15 minutes; that’s 36,000 elephants killed a year. By connecting an elephant to the Internet, we would know its location and biometric data. So when an elephant is shot, the ranger could respond to the location immediately, with more chance to catch the poacher.

I applied to Game Rangers International elephant orphanage in Zambia to spend a month there as a researcher, identifying elephants in the wild, so that at the same time I could complete a feasibility study of how technology could assist the whole conservation process. They accepted my request and I used my PTO to live at their camp in Kalule for one month.

Sarah setting up a Cisco WLAN in the African bush using an Inmarsat BGAN and a Cisco 819 Ruggedised router.

During my month-long stay, I was exposed to the anti-poaching unit, the orphanage and the team dealing with human-elephant conflict. This helped me understand their challenges and processes. I was able to identify where technology could improve those processes. I took an Inmarsat BGAN and a Cisco 819 IOE router with me to Zambia, and despite living in a camp with no electricity or running water, I was able to build a solar powered Cisco Wireless LAN network, deep in the African wild.

Cisco supported the publication of a blog during my visit, documenting what I learned, and I published a Google+ page. In total, these received over 30,000 views. A large number of people got in touch with me on the topic and we have been able to put together a variety of teams and projects working to use technology to save endangered species.

Sarah at a local African school attempting to inspire the children on the power of technology by running a drawing competition on her iPad.

I am really proud to work for a company that enables me to fuse my profession and my personal passions together—so I am able to use my experience of technology gained at Cisco to make a difference in the world. I am looking forward to seeing the results.

If we save just one rhino, or prevent just one more baby elephant from becoming an orphan when its mother is shot for her ivory tusks, it will have all been worthwhile.

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